The latest challenge of refashioning a century-old Italian brand into acceptable shape for the twenty-first century has fallen to Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Back in the day, Prada was a venerable leather goods brand and luxury pottery maker, but now, under new identity, it finds itself in the same position as hundreds of years ago—a leader, marching along fashion’s ever-changing seams.
Fall 2023’s result proves somewhat more intellectual than the faddish garb that has transcended the pace of our times. It is essentially a collection of tactile, emphatic, sometimes cut-up garments, sharp cottons, skinny tailored black pantsuits, and pristine offerings that add interest to the case. Prada’s taste is for modern luxe, much in the minimalist vein of young designers, except they go mad with nylon and satin peplum dresses, too. They did a good job of abstracting ideas from the house’s heritage, making neat collars with crisp edges, as well as a slew of short blazers belted all over those pieces of skin-tight formalwear.
The tactic Prada and Simons adopted was to jump headfirst into the archive and abstract the surfaces of the brand’s deck. They did that by taking elements like tucks, fastenings, and suede and working them onto zones of trousers and light jackets. They looked effective, as did neutral-toned, dark figure-hugging two-piece suiting numbers, but otherwise, the collection seemed to have an essential throughline of their first few outings.
The test of high design drive is whether execution rules over mere evolution; equally important is whether idea and execution merge to apply to a devoted customer. Prada’s jackets and accessories ticked both of those boxes. Extraneous details are shorn from garments that wrap the form in a tactile exchange, against a naked body, why modernist precepts of reduction and simplicity combined with their apparent contradictions: comfort, exaggeration, and intimacy. What’s more, silhouettes took a clever stance. They were amplified and attenuated, exploring extreme vicissitude between couture volumes through the architecture of the clothes. But what’s even more clever is that none of the looks were weighed down by the idea of fashion fundamentals, which is one of the burdens that sometimes daunts young designers tasked to revive a classic brand.
In the sequence of the show, minimalism came out first in extensive variety. A delightful colour spectrum spanning brown, blue and black reigned supreme, owing a softening effect on the fabrics and clothes. On that note, it was a short, lean, extremely elegant brown suit that looked most convincing, aiming at a new target audience while promoting a timeless classic without fear of compromise. It may seem simplistic, but thanks to surprisingly poised moments like this, plus the feel of youthfulness and ease they’re now toying with, the pair are gaining confidence. As Prada says, it’s like a slow metamorphosis.
Head below to see the show’s highlights for yourself, right now…